Washington Ballet’s Swan Lake debut

The Washington BalletWashington Ballet is set to make a historic debut when it presents iconic ballerina Misty Copeland at the helm of its production. In April 2015, many firsts will be seen for the 70 year old company, none more prominent than the premiere of star ballerina Misty Copeland in the leading roles of Odette/Odile. The production will also launch performances by musical artists of S&R Foundation’s Evermay Chamber Orchestra in Washington Ballet’s first-ever full length production of this quintessential ballet.

Recently Copeland has been on the rise to stardom as one of the US’s most celebrated ballerinas, only the second African-American ballerina to be promoted to soloist at American Ballet Theatre. Recently she was a guest judge on the television show So You Think You Can Dance, and was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

As an artist, Copeland is changing the paradigm as to what a ballerina should look like, with delicate physicality, fantastic technique and a natural stage presence to make her one of the most important female dancers in the US today. As a classical dancer she is now redefining the typical notions of what a ballet dancer should look like, and is a model for where classical ballet is going, ultimately artistic and physically powerful.

Washington Ballet will be dancing Kirk Peterson’s adaptation of Swan Lake, which draws heavily on the 1934 adaptation of the 1895 original Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake. Peterson is widely regarded as a specialist in re-staging full-length classical repertoire such as The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Giselle and Coppélia through years of research and dedication to ballet. For Swan Lake, Peterson aims to revive the original intent of Swan Lake and breathe new life into what he calls “a damaged icon.”

London Book Launch Of Irina Baronova And The Ballets Russes De Monte Carlo

Irina BaronovaVictoria Tennant, acclaimed actress and daughter of Russian prima ballerina Irina Baronova, is set to launch a new book on her late mother, Irina Baronova and the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, on Wednesday 10 December at the Royal Academy of Dance in London. Baronova is renowned as one of the iconic choreographer George Balanchine’s protégés, one of his Baby Ballerinas.

In conversation with dance archivist Jane Pritchard, Victoria Tennant will deliver a presentation on the book as well as showing previously unseen film footage of her mother, followed by a Q&A session and book signing. Tickets are available at £15 for non-members, £10 for RAD members and £7 for enrolled RAD students. Your ticket will include a glass of wine and the chance to buy a signed copy of the book at a greatly discounted price of £30 (RRP £38).

This sumptuous, illustrated history tells the story of Irina Baronova (1919–2008), prima ballerina for the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo and later for Ballet Theatre in New York. She was also Vice President of the RAD and was honoured with the QEII Coronation Award in 1996. Drawing on rare photographs, letters, correspondence, oral histories and interviews, Victoria Tennant warmly recounts her mother’s dramatic life.

The launch takes place from 7–8.30pm in the Genée studio at RAD headquarters, 36 Battersea Square, London SW11 3RA. To book your place at what is sure to be a fascinating event, promising to tell the story of one of ballet’s most glamorous stars, contact Sarah-Jane Lewis at SJLewis@rad.org.uk or call 020 7326 8051.

Northern Ballet’s Plans For 2015

Northern BalletLeeds-based company Northern Ballet has recently announced its plans for 2015, following a very successful year on the stage and in the studio in 2014. Having staged a number of successful productions with the dust slowly settling, 2015 looks set to be another exciting year for the company.

The company’s plans will include a new adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 by Jonathan Watkins, a season of love stories, a new mixed bill and much-loved tale, the children’s ballet The Elves and the Shoemaker. Recently the company has also staged fairytales such as The Ugly Duckling to critical acclaim, so audiences look set for a real treat with The Elves and the Shoemaker.

In February 2015, the company will dance the UK premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Romeo and Juliet in Edinburgh, and will go on to tour David Nixon’s ballets Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby. Following an increase in funding from Arts Council England from 2015 to 2018, the company has introduced a new strand of touring: Madame Butterfly and Christopher Hampson’s Perpetuum Mobile will be taken to nine new venues, giving Northern Ballet the potential to reach an additional 18,000 people.

Northern Ballet will mark its 45th anniversary with a Sapphire Gala at Leeds Grand Theatre in March 2015, and in May it will dance a mixed programme in Leeds and at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio theatre. This programme will include the London premiere of Kenneth Tindall’s work The Architect, his most recent work.

In addition, a choreographic ‘laboratory’ workshop will be held in Leeds in May and June; it will work to invite emerging dance makers to work with the company dancers on new narrative material. Not only will this uncover new work for the ascending company, but will also provide unique opportunities for aspiring dance makers.

American Ballet Theatre’s 75th anniversary

ABT LogoAmerican Ballet Theatre is set to mark is 75th anniversary with a celebration which will last 15 months. It will include historic revivals, new works, a new documentary film, a touring exhibition by the Library of Congress and an anniversary gala. With such a huge milestone to celebrate it seems the company is rather justified in its plans. If this news was not exciting enough, guest artists for the season will include Evgenia Obraztsova, Natalia Osipova and Marianela Nuñez, who will be making her American Ballet Theatre debut in a revival of Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella.

The spring season will feature works performed during the company’s first decade of work, such as George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, which was created for the company in 1947. The works will also include Agnes de Mille’s 1942 Rodeo, bringing out the company heirlooms from the archive. The most anticipated part of the celebratory year of the anniversary is Alexei Ratmansky’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty, which has its world premiere at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in California on 3 March 2015.

The company will hold its anniversary gala at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on 18 May 2015, featuring special guest appearances, film excerpts of historic performances and interviews with major figures in the dance world. Esteemed choreographer Mark Morris will then create a new work for American Ballet Theatre’s autumn season for 2015.

The anniversary will also be marked by a new documentary by film maker Ric Burns, detailing the company’s intricate background. The Library of Congress exhibition – American Ballet Theatre: touring the globe for 75 years – will be on view until January 2015, and will then travel to Los Angeles where it will be available to view for six months.

News For English National Ballet’s Swan Lake

ENB LogoFrom 7-18 January, English National Ballet will return to the London Coliseum with Derek Deane’s critically acclaimed production of Swan Lake, following a UK tour.

Arguably one of the most popular ballets created, Swan Lake tells the story of Prince Siegfried’s love for the Swan Queen, Odette, their battle against the evil magician, Rothbart, and an encounter with the manipulative Odile. This popular production brings the romance and high drama of the Russian ballet tradition alive: this version premiered at the London Coliseum in 2000 and has since been seen by over 550,000 people around the UK.

Continuing to work with the very best talent from around the world, Swan Lake will see Guest Artists Ivan Vasiliev, Alban Lendorf and Vitor Luiz perform alongside Alina Cojocaru, Tamara Rojo and Fernanda Oliveira respectively.

Swan Lake also sees Lead Principal Elena Glurdjidze’s farewell performance with the Company on 18 January. Glurdjidze has been with the English National Ballet company for 12 years of her professional career; in her time she has performed lead roles in Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle and Manon to name a few. She was nominated for Best Female Dancer in the Critics’ Circle Awards in 2009 and won the Ballet.co.uk Audience Poll for Best Female Dancer in 2007 and 2008.

The company has been at the heart of the UK for decades, and it is clear that the dancers have earned such places too. Under the leadership of Tamara Rojo, it is clear the dancers are flourishing and the company is going from strength to strength. As Artistic Director she is providing increasingly significant opportunities for the dancers, including those with numerous guest artists who are internationally renowned. Bringing their talent and expertise to the company means it can continue to thrive.

English National Ballet’s 2014/2015 season

ENB LogoThere has been lots of exciting news for English National Ballet recently, including its presenting Modern Masters: Icons of 20th Century Choreography at Sadler’s Wells in March 2015 (including works by Forsythe, Neumeier and Kylián), two new regional hubs for English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme, the My First Ballet series continuing with a brand new version of Swan Lake and a large international tour to take place in 2015.

Modern Masters will include works from two choreographers new to the Company’s repertoire; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Spring and Fall by John Neumeier. The triple bill also includes Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, first performed by the Company in Ecstasy and Death in 2013. Originally created for Hamburg Ballet, Neumeier’s Spring and Fall is not in the repertoire of any other UK company. Set to Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings in E Major, it features two couples and corps de ballet.

English National Ballet is committed to presenting the very best of both traditional and contemporary ballet to audiences across the UK: bringing these works to Sadler’s Wells continues this commitment and offers the opportunity to reach new audiences. Continuing to develop its work with Dance for Parkinson’s, English National Ballet will expand its regional class programmes to include DanceEast in Ipswich and National Dance Company Wales in Cardiff.

English National Ballet will take its critically acclaimed production of Coppélia to Southampton, Oxford and Bristol, and ahead of its run at the Coliseum in January 2015, Derek Deane’s Swan Lake will tour to Manchester, Milton Keynes and Liverpool. Making ballet accessible to audiences as young as three years old, the popular My First Ballet… series continues with My First Ballet: Swan Lake. The production will run at the Peacock Theatre, London, followed by a six week UK tour.

Queensland Ballet’s London Debut

Queensland BalletAustralia’s Queensland Ballet is set to debut the Olivier and Evening Standard award winning production of ‘La Sylphide’ at the London Coliseum from 4–8 August 2015. Over 30 years since it first captivated the capital’s audiences, the legendary production of August Bournonville’s ‘La Sylphide’ will return to London, performed by the internationally acclaimed Australia’s Queensland Ballet in their London debut.

Schaufuss’ La Sylphide premiered in London in 1979 and has been seen by millions around the world. The production was captured by an award-winning BBC production for TV, whilst a number of leading ballet companies have presented Schaufuss’ provocative interpretation of the Danish classic to widespread critical acclaim. It is one of the world’s oldest remaining ballets, one which paved the way for romantic ballets with its tragic story that has fascinated audiences since the early 19th century. La Sylphide tells the story of a young man who encounters an ethereal sylph on the eve of his wedding: in the pursuit of the seemingly attainable true love and happiness, he abandons everything, including his bride-to-be and ventures into the unknown.

The London debut of Queensland Ballet – Australia’s premier ballet company – is under the direction of international former dancer and author Li Cunxin, known for his bestselling book and movie “Mao’s Last Dancer”. Herman von Løvenskjold’s buoyant score will be performed by a live orchestra led by prominent British conductor Andrew Mogrelia during the 2015 London season. La Sylphide has always evoked strong responses and excited audiences since its very first performance back in 1836 and is set to again in the capital next year with the spectacular and evocative ballet.

Turn Boards

Turn BoardsThe benefits of turn boards can be debated. There are many aids, products and remedies for dancers on the market which help their training, however the pros and cons of turn boards can be identified easily. Seen in the dance film documentary First Position, it seems turn boards help dancers to master their pirouettes, improve confidence in turning and correct their spotting, balance and posture.

A turn board is a slim rectangular board which works on the principle of reducing friction between the foot and the floor, allowing the dancer to spin fast. While it is clear a turn board delivers a multitude of turns for the dancer, this does not necessarily translate into a number of turns when a turn board is not used. It may however improve dancers’ spotting and allow them to get used to the sensation of performing multiple turns, as well as highlighting small adjustments to be made to improve turns on the floor.

Despite this, a turn board requires the dancer to turn on a flat foot which has potential for problems with technique: in classical ballet, a turn is performed with a releve to either demi or full point. Turn boards may then encourage dancers to turn on a low demi pointe rather than pulling up and turning on a high demi pointe as required. Turning on a flat foot means the foot is not in the same position and the weight distribution is different than for pirouettes in ballet.

Therefore the physicality of a turn, with an adjusted centre of gravity when on flat to demi or full point, is very different with and without the board. For beginners who are just learning turning technique it is likely that the turn board would complicate matters. It could make learning pirouettes harder or encourage bad habits.

Principal Casting For ENB’s Autumn UK Tour

ENB LogoPrincipal casting for English National Ballet’s autumn UK tour, and performances of the classic The Nutcracker, have recently been announced, with a multitude of pairings to watch once summer is over.

Joining English National Ballet from Boston Ballet, Alejandro Virelles will make his debut as Principal, performing the role of Prince Siegfried alongside Alina Cojocaru’s Odette/Odile in Derek Deane’s Swan Lake. We will also see lead roles from Ksenia Ovsyanick, who was recently promoted to Soloist, and her debut as Odette/Odile with Zdenek Konvalina; Tamara Rojo and the winner of Emerging Dancer 2014 Junor Souza; Fernanda Oliveira and Dmitri Gruzdyev; and Shiori Kase, who was promoted to First Soloist and her debut as Odette/Odile, with Yonah Acosta, who was promoted to Principal. Deane’s traditional production tours to Manchester in October, followed by Milton Keynes, Liverpool and the London Coliseum.

After a critically acclaimed run at the London Coliseum in July this year, Coppélia begins a UK tour to Southampton in October, also heading to Oxford and Bristol. Following their debut performance in the lead roles of Franz and Swanilda, Acosta will also perform alongside Kase on tour. Coppélia is the comic tale of an eccentric toymaker and his mechanical doll. Dr Coppélius, the toymaker, creates a lifelike Coppélia doll and wishes to bring her to life.

Nutcracker returns to the London Coliseum from 11 December 2014-4 January 2015. First performed in 2010 to celebrate English National Ballet’s 60th anniversary, Wayne Eagling’s version has since been seen by over 300,000 people. Principals for Nutcracker include Laurretta Summerscales with identical twins Guilherme Menezes and Vitor Menezes, both making their debuts as the Prince and Nutcracker.

This is English National Ballet’s 11th production of Nutcracker since it performed its first full length Nutcracker in 1950, its founding year. Since then, English National Ballet has established the tradition of performing Nutcracker at Christmas every year.

World Ballet Day

World Ballet DayOn 1 October, the first World Ballet Day will see a fantastic collaboration between five of the world’s leading ballet companies: the Australian Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and San Francisco Ballet. On the first day of October, each company will stream behind-the-scenes action live from their rehearsal studios. Starting at the beginning of the dancers’ day, each company will take the lead with a four-hour period, streaming from their headquarters.

The day will begin with the Australian Ballet in Melbourne, before the live link passes across time zones from Melbourne to Moscow, London, Toronto and finally to San Francisco. The backstage access will highlight the differences in style between the five companies – as leaders in their field – as they follow a similar routine but approach choreography and performance in individual ways. Starting with morning class, the day will be a celebration of dance as they move onto rehearsals.

World Ballet Day is a development of Royal Ballet Live, a nine-hour live stream via YouTube and the Guardian website. Watched by 200,000 people, there have been a total of 2.5 million views on YouTube to date. World Ballet Day will be the first time that the other four companies have taken the cameras backstage in this way, and the first time that YouTube has streamed so much content. The day’s streaming will be repeated on YouTube in full, so viewers around the world can catch up on any parts of the day they missed; edited highlights will then be made available for further viewing, increasing the reach of the day further.

Full details of the day are yet to be confirmed, however The Royal Ballet’s section will include Marianela Nuñez and Federico Bonelli rehearsing for Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon, which opens at the Royal Opera House on 26 September.